[FoRK] The Parable of Joe and the Looters

Jeff Bone jbone at place.org
Sun Jul 6 11:11:48 PDT 2008

On Jul 6, 2008, at 1:36 AM, Stephen D. Williams wrote:

> Sometimes California, with a GDP of about 1.7 Trillion (in 2006), is  
> 14B
> behind in a given year? Boo hoo...

BTW, I'm not sure there's any reasonable conclusion to be drawn from  
comparing these two numbers.  The fact that they're both expressed in  
the same units of measure doesn't really mean much.  In this case you  
might as well compare the budget deficit to any quantity of  
sufficiently large magnitude, such as the number of stars in the galaxy.

A better thing to consider, given the tax structure of California, is  
the personal burden-per-taxpayer of a single, annual budget deficit of  
about that size:  about $400, every year the deficit is that big.  Not  
too bad, perhaps...  except when you consider that the only thing that  
can reduce that is unpredictable economic growth or tax hikes.  Given  
that you can't control the budget in your state, any deficit is cause  
for alarm.

The pertinent point here is this:  the state of California runs a  
deficit paying for things that in large part the people of the state  
of California vote in through ballot initiative.  If it does this  
consistently, or has no reliable means of scaling back on various  
spending initiatives, it therefore can't really reasonably be expected  
to maintain those programs while taking over for the federal  
government on areas of unsustainable spending that the federal  
government will ultimately be forced to scale back.

By comparison, the State of Texas (just as an example, I'm not  
particularly fond of Texas for several reasons, that's why I choose to  
reside in the People's Republic of Austin for the time being ;-) for  
2009 is not projected to run a deficit.  We have run deficits in some  
years, including some that are larger per-resident than the California  
example under consideration.  (In 2003, for example, we were "second  
worst" in terms of overall size of deficit:  behind California, just  
ahead of New York.)

But we don't have the kind of effectively-mandatory spending that you  
get with the California system.



PS - even accepting Stephen's $1.7T number, the individual  
contribution to annual product only goes to $46575, still (barely)  
below Texas at $46809.

PPS - you might be surprised that those figures are that low.  For  
extra credit --- what do you think those numbers *mean?*

More information about the FoRK mailing list